Mumbai: Amid a bonhomie of hugs and handshakes, Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Telangana – Uddhav Thackeray and K. Chandrashekar Rao, respectively – said, “winds of change are blowing in the country” and now its “time for a change” (Parivartan), here Sunday.
The Thackeray-Rao duo also declared that the foundations of a united third front of Opposition parties in the country to challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party, would be laid from Maharashtra.
They expressed serious concerns over the future of the country and what direction it is going, given the “politics of vendetta” pursued by the BJP.
Rao also met the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) ally Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and “discussed politics and the state of the nation”, while Congress President Nana Patole expressed full support to the visiting CM’s endeavours to forge Opposition unity.
“We have discussed several issues in detail. We feel there is a need for structural and policy changes in the country. We condemn the manner in which central probe agencies are being misused. The Centre must change its policies or it will face the consequences,” Rao said.
The two leaders said this “is just the beginning and now talks will be held with other national-regional parties” with a strong developmental agenda to strengthen the country.
Expressing concerns over the political environment in the country, Thackeray said that “politics of vengeance of the lowest levels has been let loose”.
“Our Hindutva is not about taking revenge on others. Today, the whole focus is on defaming others while resorting to lies and claims of achievement and alleging others have done nothing,” Thackeray said strongly.
Rao invited Thackeray to visit Hyderabad for another round of meeting and said his next conclave with the state leaders would be held in Baramati (the Pawars’ hometown in Pune) soon, if needed.
“Our discussions were based on principles and the problems confronting the country. It’s our responsibility to show the way to the countrymen, solve the problems of farmers and commoners,” said Pawar.
“Pawar Saheb is our senior leader. He supported our agitation (for Telangana state) right from 1969 till its birth (2014). We feel the country is not being run properly, development is stalled and the expected progress has not taken place,” the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) President said.
They exhorted that now is the time to take all parties together and forge ahead unitedly with a new agenda to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the people of the country.
Welcoming Rao’s political pilgrimage to Maharashtra, Patole pointed out how the TRS was once an ally of the BJP and helped it immensely, but later the BJP started destroying the TRS.
“The BJP has been doing that with all its former allies trying to finish them off, and now they have all realised it. Even the people of the country have understood the BJP’s strategem,” the Congress chief said.
Patole said that now the time has come to give a befitting challenge to the BJP which the Congress and UPA can do effectively to ensure a much-needed change in the country’s politics.
Both Thackeray and Rao said that a good start has been made today with the objective of ‘parivartan’ (change) to protect India’s democracy, and said “you will see very good results of these meetings soon”.
Interestingly, the Opposition state BJP president Chandrakant Patil scoffed at the Thackeray-Rao and Pawar-Rao meetings, and declared that in 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would lead the party to win over “400 seats”.
BJP ally Republican Party of India (A) President and Union MoS Ramdas Athawale reiterated that the Shiv Sena and BJP should forget the past and join hands for the benefit of the people.
“I humbly appeal to Uddhav Thackeray to let bygones be bygones and again ally with the BJP… They were both friends for over 25 years before some misunderstandings cropped up. They must work together for the development of the state,” Athawale urged.
Thackeray was joined by several of his ministers, MPs Sanjay Raut and Arvind Sawant, son Tejas, Pawar was flanked by senior leaders like Praful Patel and other leaders.
Rao – greeted with huge welcome banners or hoardings en route the airport to south Mumbai – was accompanied by MPs Ranjit Reddy, Santosh Kumar, B.P. Patil, MLAs Palla R. Reddy, (Mrs.) K. Kavita, TRS General Secretary Shravan Reddy and veteran actor Prakash Raj among others.